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Means Testing

Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of people subject to means-testing in the (a) current and (b) 2002–03 financial years. [20996]

Malcolm Wicks: We estimate that there will be approximately 6.5 million people receiving an income- related benefit both this financial year and the next.

Third-age Apprenticeships

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to develop third-age apprenticeships in the Wirral. [22180]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 358W.

Age Diversity

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if the Government will make a response to the evaluation of the code of practice on age diversity in employment; and if he will make a statement. [23127]

Mr. McCartney: The voluntary code of practice on age diversity in employment was launched in 1999 and the evaluation of its impact has now been completed. This evaluation will inform future plans for legislation in this area.

The report is the first comprehensive evaluation of employment-related age practices across Great Britain and the Government were pleased to publish it on 3 December 2001. Copies are available in the Library and have been made publicly available through the new website

The report has identified that much progress has been made but that we must not be complacent in the lead up to legislation in 2006. We are continuing our ongoing work with individuals, employers and expert groups, and looking how to increase the impact of the code on encouraging age positive practices in the light of the report's findings.

Work-focused Interviews

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people attended work-focused interviews as a result of the Social Security (Jobcentre Plus Interviews) Regulations 2001 in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) the constituency of Gordon in November. [23294]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: National roll-out of Jobcentre Plus will start next year. At present, only people of working age living within areas that are served by Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices or work-focused interview sites making new or repeat claims for benefit are required to attend a work-focused interview.

4,985 1 non-jobseeker's allowance customers attended a work-focused meeting at a Jobcentre Plus pathfinder site or Work-focused interview site in Great Britain between

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27 October and 30 November 2001. Social Security matters in Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Bereavement Payments

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications for bereavement payments have been refused in each year since 1995; and how many were refused because of late claims. [24062]

Malcolm Wicks: Our reforms of bereavement benefits introduced in April 2001 concentrate the help available where and when it is needed most—on immediate needs and on families with children. For the first time these benefits are available equally to both men and women. Immediate help with costs arising on bereavement is provided by a lump sum bereavement payment of £2,000—double the old widow's payment of £1,000.

Out of a total of 9,327 applications for a bereavement payment, 316 1 were refused during the period 9 April 2001 to 30 November 2001. Information is not collected separately on applications which do not succeed because of a late claim. Information on the number of applications for a widow's payment prior to 9 April 2001 which did not succeed was not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Prince's Trust

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what advice is given to local jobcentres directing them to encourage young people seeking work to approach the Prince's Trust with a view to starting their own business. [24372]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Prince's Trust is one of a number of organisations with which the Employment Service (ES) contract to deliver business start-up help within the new deal for young people. The Department also supports the trust's youth enterprise programme which operates in England. This offers loans and grants to disadvantaged young people who want to set up their own business, but cannot access start-up capital from commercial sources.

As with other similar providers, Jobcentres are encouraged to make young people aware of the support the Prince's Trust can offer, and to refer interested young people to the Trust in their local area. In practice, this means that Jobcentres are guided to:

Foot and Mouth

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what changes were observed in the numbers

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claiming (a) unemployment benefit and (b) income support in the areas affected by foot and mouth disease during the period of the outbreak. [24391]

Malcolm Wicks: Between March and October 2001, the Department received some 5,500 claims for jobseeker's allowance (JSA) in England, Scotland and Wales where people stated the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) was the reason for their previous employment ending. There is a normal monthly flow of people on to JSA of about 225,000. Over the same period there were 130 claims for income support attributed to FMD.

During this period employment continued to grow and new vacancies remained high—providing job opportunities for people leaving employment whatever the reason. Unemployment continued to fall in Wales, Scotland and in all the English regions except London, where it rose slightly.

On 11 April 2001, the Employment Service, together with the then Department for Education and Employment and learning and skills councils, established Rural Skills Action to help those affected by FMD retrain in other occupations. Rural Skills Action also helped people who had been laid off on a temporary basis to upgrade their skills.

National Insurance Numbers

Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recourse is open to individuals who have been allocated an incorrect national insurance number and have no record of contributions made over many years. [25137]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The procedure for issuing national insurance numbers has been tightened following the introduction of the enhanced national insurance number allocation process in April 2001.

Any duplicate national insurance number that is identified on the computer systems of the Department for Work and Pensions and the Inland Revenue national insurance recording system is cancelled and the contributions record amalgamated on the single national insurance record.

If my hon. Friend's question refers to a specific case he should write to me giving details.

Claimant Advocates

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of claimants in receipt of (a) retirement pension, (b) the minimum income guarantee and (c) attendance allowance for whom he has appointed a third party who is acting on behalf of the claimant. [25319]

Mr. McCartney: The information for retirement pension and attendance allowance is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows. As at August 2001 there were 179,900 minimum income guarantee claimants in Great Britain who have an appointee acting on their behalf.

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Illegal Immigrants

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action his Department takes in relation to illegal immigrants (a) to ensure social inclusion and (b) to deal with employment. [26730]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

Responsibility for immigration rests with the Home Office, which aims to remove those who have no basis to stay in the United Kingdom. Social inclusion and integration measures apply particularly to those who are given permission to stay.

Subject to their status, illegal immigrants found working illegally will usually be subject to removal action. Those who employ illegal immigrants may face criminal sanctions.

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